Russia sends mixed signals on adoption ban

Adoption | Tiffany Owens

Russia sends mixed signals on adoption ban

Brian Preece and his wife Rebecca, of Nampa, Idaho, who want to adopt a Russian boy with Down's syndrome.
Associated Press/Photo by Misha Japaridze

In the wake of Russia’s new law banning US adoptions, parents who have poured years of time and thousands of dollars into the adoption process now wait with baited breath to learn whether they can bring their children home.

Since December, they have continued to get conflicting information. On Thursday, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, reassured American parents that they would be allowed to leave with their children. Russian courts had approved adoptions for 52 U.S. families before Putin signed the ban into law, but many of these families say Russian authorities now refuse to turn over their children.

Brian and Rebecca Preece, who hope to adopt a 4-year-old boy, still have not received any news from Russian authorities. They, along with another couple, Jenna and Wayne Bonner, have stayed in Moscow for four days waiting to finalize the adoption of children with Down’s Syndrome. Officials refused to turn over the children to them, quoting the new law.

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The anti-adoption law was retaliation for a U.S. sanctions against Russians identified as human-rights violators. It was rushed through parliament in December and sped to President Vladimir Putin's desk in less than 10 days. On Sunday, tens of thousands rallied in central Moscow to protest the law, which the demonstrators say victimizes children to make a political point.

Astakhov vehemently defended the new law, saying it would not be revoked "however big the protests are." He also said Russia would honor the previous court decisions, but did not elaborate on a timeline.

"All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.," he said.

According to the Russian government, 654,000 children live without parental custody in Russia,105,000 of them in orphanages. American adoptions out of Russia have been on a steady decline for the past decade. For orphans not adopted by native families, international adoption is their last chance at a normal life. Otherwise, they’ll spend the rest of their adolescent years in an orphanage. Many often end up turning to crime or prostitution later in life.

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